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Publisher's Summary

In this searing and riveting New York Times best seller, Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu reveals the dark underbelly of Olympic gymnastics, the true price of success…and the shocking secret about her past and her family that she only learned years later.

At 14 years old, Dominique Moceanu was the youngest member of the 1996 US Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team, the first and only American women’s team to take gold at the Olympics. Her pixyish appearance and ferocious competitive drive quickly earned her the status of media darling. But behind the fame, the flawless floor routines, and the million-dollar smile, her life was a series of challenges and hardships.

Off Balance vividly delineates each of the dominating characters who contributed to Moceanu’s rise to the top, from her stubborn father and long-suffering mother to her mercurial coach, Bela Karolyi. Here, Moceanu finally shares the haunting stories of competition, her years of hiding injuries and pain out of fear of retribution from her coaches, and how she hit rock bottom after a public battle with her parents. But medals, murder plots, drugs, and daring escapes aside (all of which figure into Moceanu’s incredible journey), the most unique aspect of her life is the family secret that Moceanu discovers, opening a new and unexpected chapter in her adult life. A mysterious letter from a stranger reveals that she has a second sister - born with a physical disability and given away at birth - who has nonetheless followed in Moceanu’s footsteps in an astonishing way.

A multilayered memoir that transcends the world of sports, Off Balance will touch anyone who has ever dared to dream of a better life.

©2012 Dominique Moceanu and Paul Williams (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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What listeners say about Off Balance

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Heartbreaking and inspiring

This book was absolutely riveting. I felt so much for little Dominique who lived under the iron fist of her father and later the Karolyi's. I remember watching the Olympics and seeing Dominique's last vault and the look of confusion on her face and her coach's. Then Kerri s vault and repeating the issue. It seemed so bizarre like there was something on the mat. Then I watched Kerri stick the landing and break her ankle. The media ate it up. They said that Kerri had to stick that landing to give USA gold. Later we found that was not the case. This is not to take anything away from Dominique, Kerri, or any of the team. Because of their amazing performance as a team, they had already won. The media has also long been in love with the Karolyi's the nasty duo coaching team. Watching him carry Kerri, I told my husband look how he's made this about him. I have never been a fan. Dominique was so brave to tell her story (one that is supported by several other people including 3 Olympians the Karolyi's coached in Romania who claim worse abuse, physical beatings and starvation while in Romania).

Dominique's life was no doubt very difficult, but she prevailed. Nevertheless with bumps in the road. Her narration is amazing. No professional narrator could tell her story and do it justice. I thought she was an amazing gymnast, now I've become an even bigger fan.

Gymnastics is the only sport run purely on politics. The American public doesn't understand it's not on scores but Martha Karolyi single-handely can block an athlete. Unlike swimming and running, it's about time. Gymnastics should be run the same way.

I highly recommend this book whether or not you are a gymnast. It's an inspiring tale of a young woman who became an Olympic icon as part of the Magnificent 7 and found a peaceful and fulfilling life. I absolutely love this book!

8 people found this helpful

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Wow! What a life!

Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceanu has led a fascinating and greatly challenging life. I generally prefer to hear the author's voice when I listen to an audiobook, so I was pleased to hear the story of Dominique's journey (so far) in her own voice. She sounded sincere and humble. Her childhood was not an easy one, but she dealt with her past with grace, honesty, and dignity. I had read about Jennifer Bricker, the sister Dominique's parents had given up for adoption, so this book helped complete the story. These Moceanu sisters are pretty formidable, in the best way.

I really enjoyed hearing about Dominique Moceanu's career in gymnastics--especially her World Championships, Goodwill Games, and Olympic experiences. I had always assumed that the Karolyis were warm and fair, but I'm grateful to Dominique for speaking up. Protecting coaches by keeping their abuse secret only perpetrates further abuse. Yet Dominique's sweet nature meant she was always willing to mend fences despite the pain she endured.

I was riveted and moved by this book and would highly recommend it.

4 people found this helpful

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  • MT
  • 08-28-16

A little depressing

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

yes and no... Im an avid gymnastic fan and was a bit depressed after reading all the negativity she had to the sport and her experiences.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The road to the Olympics 1996 was the most interesting.
Finding out she had a long lost sister was the least.

What aspect of Dominique Moceanu’s performance would you have changed?

Her voice was pleasing and her narration was perfect!

What else would you have wanted to know about the authors’s life?

More about what she LIKED about gymnastics instead of all the negatives

3 people found this helpful

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VIP Access to a VIP

I chose this book because Dominique was one of my idols as a young girl. I remember watching her at the '96 Olympics, a bonding experience for my dad and me. I remembered being stunned when I heard the news of Dominique's birth sister who had been put up for adoption, so I was crossing my fingers hoping to learn more both about Dominique's career and also her family.

The book totally delivered on my hopes. It was personal and honest, and I personally loved that Dominique didn't editorialize whatsoever. I'm amazed, given the stories she told, that she was so generous and fair to the many villains in her story. I am even more impressed with her as a person than I thought I would be.

The reason I give it 4 stars is that I'm not sure it would mean as much to someone who didn't already care about Dominique. The writing is very simple, sometimes even plain and clichè, and absolutely nothing is sensationalized. If you're looking for an incredible book in its own right, this may not be it, but if you're looking for an incredible human, look no further.

1 person found this helpful

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Dominique did an excellent job!

What did you love best about Off Balance?

I really enjoyed how Dominique gave an honest story about how she was treated during training.

What other book might you compare Off Balance to and why?

It was similar to a book I read about swimming called, "In the water they can't see you cry" by Amanda Beard.

What about Dominique Moceanu’s performance did you like?

I think she did a great job. I would not be able to perform an audio book the way she did!

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

It was difficult to hear about how her family started falling apart. I felt terrible for her.

2 people found this helpful

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Brave

I remember following Dominque in the Olympics and was so saddened by her fallout with her family. I now understand it so much more. Brave and courageous is this incredible athlete. I loved her honesty about the Karoly's ... people like that are not being tolerated anymore, but she was one of the first to have the courage to stand up! Bravo!

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I really enjoyed this book

I enjoyed getting an inside look to Dominique's gymnastics story and her life. I definitely appreciated that she didn't try to sugar coat her story,. I also really liked that she read it--I feel like hearing it in her own voice added to the telling

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Lacks insight

I’m a lifelong gymnastics fan and while I’ve read many nonfiction books on the sport, I avoided OFF BALANCE because I wasn’t a fan of Dominique Moceanu’s style of acrobatics. Curiosity about the legendary Karolyi abusive practices convinced me to read.

Dominque’s controlling, often violent father and her passive mother set the framework for the young gymnast’s years under the harsh training of Bela and Marta Karolyi. The story opens with Dominique, pregnant with her first child, lest imho her parents gave up for adoption her sister Jennifer, born without legs. Jumping from learning about her sister to her gymnastics career felt disjointed and choppy.

Moceanu’s writing, mostly telling rather than showing, is at times dry when it should be emotional, perhaps because she spoon feeds readers about how terrible she felt rather than allowing readers to feel her pain through observation of incidents. “I was just a scared little kid who deserved better” permeated throughout the chapters, told in different ways. Yes, she was and I’m so sorry she wasn’t nurtured and protected the way she should have been. I wish she had allowed me as a reader to know without being repeatedly told.

At times Moceanu gives her father too much leeway for his abusive behavior. Other times, she seems to lack the understanding of appropriate parental boundaries, understandably after how she was raised. She impressed me as a woman who had little more than surface insight and could have benefited from a lot of therapy. She also seems to have unresolved issues and goes about relating them on a sometimes passive-aggressive manner.

OFF BALANCE helped me understand what Dominique had been through and made me a fan of her as a gymnast and as a woman, even though the book is at best average. I believe every story she told.

She mispronounced a number of words in the narration, which made me wonder how much of the book she actually wrote.

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She's a Powerhouse in More than Gymnastics

I remember cheering for her before she made it to the Olympics. After listening to this book, I began cheering for her in life. I am so proud of her for overcoming so much. She's a positive influence in children's lives and is nurturing them as they grow.

The only criticism that I have is that she loves the city that I couldn't wait to leave.

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Must Read for every 90s girl

For every 90s girl who idolized the Magnificent Seven from the 1996 Olympics, this is a must-read book for a behind the scenes of what it was like to train at the Karolyis gym. I remember seeing Moceanu in the headlines for her family drama, but this shed a lot more light of the situation. As a forever fan of the Mag 7, I sincerely enjoyed this book.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-21-17

changed my perception

an honest and forthright bio that gave me a different insight into her life both personal and professional

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-10-20

Truly heartbreaking story but inspirational.

A powerful, truthful insight into the Karolyi domination of the USA women’s gymnastics. Dominique, for such a long time, was the ONLY one brave enough to tell the truth. What a horrific childhood she had yet was strong, brave and honest enough to share her story and overcome such adversity. A true champion in my eyes. Thank you Dominique for sharing your story.